Americas

Brazilian investors buy Miami real estate. Haitian earthquake survivors attend South Florida schools. It's clear what happens in Latin America and the Caribbean has a profound effect on South Florida.

WLRN’s coverage of the region is headed by Americas editor Tim Padgett, a 23-year veteran of TIME and Newsweek magazines.

He joins a team of reporters and editors at the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and NPR to cover a region whose cultural wealth, environmental complexity, vast agricultural output and massive oil reserves offer no shortage of important and fascinating stories to tell.

Tim Padgett produces the weekly Latin America Report, made possible by Espírito Santo Bank.

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Latin America
8:49 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

News Of A Kidnapping: Will Colombian Peace Talks Survive?

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos talking with WLRN's Tim Padgett in New York in September about peace talks with the FARC.
Credit Presidencia de Colombia

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos recently told WLRN that his government’s peace talks with Marxist guerrillas were “at their most difficult moment.” After a kidnapping last weekend, we now know what Santos was talking about.

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Miami Book Fair International
5:55 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Richard Blanco's New Miami Memoir Explores 'Becoming' Cuban-American

Richard Blanco reading from a book of his poetry
Credit Joyce Tenneson / RichardBlanco.com

From the opening pages of poet Richard Blanco’s refreshing memoir, “The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood,” it’s clear that you’re not wandering Calle Ocho in one of those nostalgic, Little Havana paradises that so many Cuban-American chronicles try to recreate.

Instead, you’re wandering a Winn Dixie in Westchester.

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Opinion
7:51 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

El Salvador's Jesuit Massacre: A Reminder Why Fewer Latin Americans Are Catholic?

Garden memorial to the six Jesuits murdered in El Salvador on November 16, 1989.
Credit Universidad de Centroamerica

This Sunday marks one of the sadder remembrances on both the Latin American and Roman Catholic calendars: The 25th anniversary of the brutal military massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter during El Salvador’s civil war.

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Marijuana
10:53 am
Thu November 13, 2014

U.S. Adapting To New World Of Permissible Pot

William Brownfield speaking recently in Costa Rica.
Credit State Department

Last week, voters in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia became the latest to approve legalizing marijuana use. They join Colorado and Washington state.

That movement conflicts with federal law, which still says pot is illegal. And it poses a foreign policy challenge for Washington, since it complicates the message the United States conveys to other nations about the drug war. That's especially true in Latin America, where Uruguay this year became the first country to legalize pot.

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Cuban Migrants
5:52 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

More Cuban Doctors Than Ever Defecting From Venezuela To South Florida

A Cuban doctor gives a patient a vaccination at a clinic for the poor in Venezuela.
Credit United Nations / Flickr

How bad are things in Venezuela? Even doctors from Cuba – one of the hemisphere’s most economically deprived countries – want out of Hugo Chávez's revolution. And now we know just how many are defecting.

Communist Cuba sends tens of thousands of doctors and other medical personnel to Venezuela, its key South American ally. In return, Cuba gets oil at a deep discount. 

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Latin America Report
4:40 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Back On The Merry-Go-Round: Argentine Duo Revives Carousel, Tango Traditions

Leo Moreno (left) and Mariano Sidoni in their Buenos Aires workshop.
Credit Carne Hueso

Recession, inflation, debt default and a weakened currency. Argentina’s economic situation these days is rough But one small business that makes carousels  – yes, merry-go-rounds – is thriving in the crisis.

And it's giving national pride a little boost in the process.

Two enterprising young men in Buenos Aires, Mariano Sidoni and Leo Moreno, are reviving a high-end craft tradition that once helped nurture Argentina’s world-famous tango music. Namely, the art of making carousels, merry-go-rounds and the gorgeous design objects inspired by them.

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Latin America Report
12:55 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Playing The Cuba Card: Can South Florida Escape Its Political Addiction?

Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo (left) debating Democratic incumbent Congressman Joe Garcia.
Credit Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

Few of Tuesday’s elections were as hard fought as Florida’s 26th congressional district – where Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo unseated incumbent Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia.

But the race is less likely to be remembered for that result than for how it may end up dropping the curtain on a time-honored Miami political tradition: playing the Cuba card.

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Latin America
5:22 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Newsflash: Honduras Is Not A Completely Terrible Place

Valle de Angeles, a town outside Hondura's capital, is a quaint tourist haven nestled in green mountains.
Credit Maria Murriel / WLRN

I admit I was scared the first time I went to Honduras, which was just last month. All I really knew of the place, aside from a little about the food, were this year's painful stories of Honduran children escaping to the United States because crippling poverty and gang violence have made their country the world's deadliest.

But my good friend was getting married, and I'd found a cheap plane ticket.

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Cuban Migrants
10:16 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Coast Guard Working Overtime To Rescue Cuban Rafters This Week

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter rescues Cuban migrants from their sinking boat Wednesday morning.
Credit U.S. Coast Guard

Dozens of Cuban migrants are lucky to be alive after a U.S. Coast Guard plane spotted their boat Wednesday morning as it took on water in the Atlantic off Boca Raton. But it was just the latest drama in a remarkably intense week – and year – for rescuing Cuban rafters.

The Coast Guard C-130 aircraft was already engaged in a search for two Cuban rafters reported missing earlier this week. But about seven miles off the coast of south Palm Beach County, here’s what it found instead:

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Latin America Report
6:32 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

In "The Cuban Spring," Vanessa Garcia Confronts The "Familial Embargo"

From left: Nick Duckart, Carlos Orizondo, Ethan Henry, Evelyn Perez and Tanya Bravo (as Siomara) in "The Cuban Spring."
Credit Eileen Suarez / New Theatre

“Taste this, Siomara, and tell me that this doesn’t taste like Cuba.”

“Mom, I don’t know what Cuba tastes like.”

-- from “The Cuban Spring” by Vanessa Garcia

The national media are heavy at the moment with The Cuban Debate. This month The New York Times called on President Obama to end the failed, 52-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and try engaging the repressive communist regime for a change as a way to reform it.

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Commentary
10:47 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

If Panama's Anti-Corruption Hunt Continues, Miami Should Watch Out

Panamanian Supreme Court Justice Alejandro Moncada Luna
Credit Panama Supreme Court

This past summer I wrote an article about Panama’s ultra-corrupt judicial system. It looked at the case of a dead man whose will had left tens of millions of dollars to poor children – and how the Panamanian Supreme Court made the highly suspicious decision to nullify that will and hand the money instead to rich adults.

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Venezuela
4:49 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

How Bad Are Things In Venezuela? It's Rationing Food – And Importing Oil

Oil installation in Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela
Credit Flickr

Venezuela’s economic woes just won’t quit. Its currency recently hit an all-time low with black market traders. Now the South American country has to ration food – and, believe it or not, import oil.

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. But it produces mostly thick, heavy crude that has to be mixed with lighter oil to make it usable. Problem is, Venezuela’s seriously mismanaged state-run oil industry isn’t pumping enough light crude. So this weekend the country will receive its first ever shipment of foreign oil: two million barrels from Algeria.

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Latin America Report
7:41 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

What The Non-Cuban Latino Vote Means For Florida Politicians

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist (center) and running mate Annette Taddeo-Goldstein (right) talk with Hector Parra (left) and his daugher Marcela Parra.
Credit Charlie Crist campaign

Latinos, as if you needed more media reminding, are America’s largest minority today. Winning their swing vote matters more than ever – even if means politicians making speeches in really bad Spanish.

In Florida, that exercise used to be a day at the beach. Or rather, an hour at Miami’s Versailles restaurant. Drink a café cubano. Declare your hatred for Fidel Castro. Head to the next campaign stop.

But that was back when Latino in Florida meant almost exclusively Cuban. And Cuban meant Republican.

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Latin America
4:24 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Gangs Can't Stop Colombia's Butterflies From Rescuing Women In Need

Three Butterflies flew to Geneva to accept a humanitarian award: Maritza Asprilla Cruz (from left), Gloria Amparo, Mery Medina.
Juan Arredondo Courtesy of UNHCR

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 4:09 pm

They call themselves "the Butterflies."

And that's not just wishful thinking.

When Gloria Amparo, Maritza Asprilla Cruz and Mery Medina sweep into NPR's bureau in central London, they are indeed as beautiful as butterflies: bright clothing, big beaming smiles. They look around in wonder at the newsroom spread out before them, laughing and joking as I make them a cup of tea.

Yet these are women who've led tough lives — born into Colombian society, where violence and abuse are commonplace.

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